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The drumbeat among Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump got a little louder on Tuesday, when former White House counsel Donald McGahn failed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee after Trump instructed him to defy a subpoena.

“Our subpoenas are not optional,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said at the hearing, McGahn’s empty seat directly in his view. “The president has taken it upon himself to intimidate a witness who has a legal obligation to be here today. This conduct is not remotely acceptable.”

Nadler vowed to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress, and to hold Trump accountable “one way or the other.”

“We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas, putting himself and his allies above the law,” he said. “We will not allow the president to stop this investigation. Nothing in these unjustified and unjustifiable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the American people.”

McGahn was a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Trump’s attempts to stop his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. House Democrats want to hear more from McGahn about an episode of possible obstruction detailed in the Mueller report. McGahn said Trump ordered him to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller.

Trump has falsely claimed that the report totally exonerated him. While the special counsel declined to charge Trump with obstruction of justice, investigators explicitly refused to exonerate the president.

Trump’s vow to defy all congressional subpoenas has led some Democrats — and one Republican — to call for the launch of impeachment proceedings.

On Tuesday morning, the two co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus issued statements pushing for those proceedings to begin.

“Regrettably, the President’s most recent actions and continued disrespect for the Constitution are forcing us down the road to impeachment,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. “Congress is a co-equal branch of government, charged with oversight of the Executive Branch and with the power to subpoena information and individuals. The President and his associates are engaging in a campaign of obstruction and lawlessness that undermines the rule of law and does not reflect the actions of someone who is ‘exonerated’ as innocent.” Read more